Quiet Girl in a Noisy World: An Introvert’s Story by Debbie Tung. Andrews McMeel, 2017. 180pp. 9781449486068.
Tung is a web cartoonist and illustrator who publishes comics about books and being an introvert and more on her Tumblr. Her illustrations are somewhat loosely drawn but realistic, and the grays she uses really helps emphasize the quiet moments she loves. I’ve never had much of a problem asking questions in class or hanging out with groups of people, but I connected with Tung on page 12, when she looks at another young woman’s bookshelf and determines that they’re gong to be friends. Books also helped me understand how she could fall in love with a guy who isn’t an introvert — when she’s trying to decide between two books in a store, he buys them both for her. (That’s love.) Overall this is a great story, told in page-length comic strips, about a young woman figuring out how to deal with a world that’s not quite set up to welcome her (her job has an open office where everyone chats!), who moves toward doing what she loves with someone she loves.
I bought this for my daughter, who says she’s something of an introvert, for Christmas last year. I’ve never seen the book again, which is a good sign, though she seemed vaguely annoyed that I’d gotten the same book from the library and told her how much I enjoyed it. (But then she always seems annoyed with me these days (vaguely and otherwise). She’s just about to turn 16.)
The Collected Doug Wright: Volume One: Canada’s Master Cartoonist by Doug Wright. Introduction by Lynn Johnston (For Better or For Worse). Drawn & Quarterly, 2009. 9781897299524. Beautifully designed by Seth. 240 wonderfully oversized 240pp.
Gene: Do you know who Doug Wright was?
G: He was kind of…
S: Is he that Canadian guy?
G: He’s that Canadian who the Doug Wright Awards are named after.
S: Oh yeah.
G: I was going to say he’s kind of like the Charles Schulz of Canada? His comics don’t look much like Peanuts, but they were beloved. They ran for a long time in Canadian newspapers. His most famous was Little Nipper or Nipper, which became Doug Wright’s family.
What I really like is that this is an oversized book that has blown up some of his drawings, especially from the beginning of his career, and it shows you how amazing his comics were. They were mostly, I think, black and white and red, so black and red ink plus white space on the page. They’re all about a little boy, Nipper, and his family.
There’s a huge biographical essay in the book about Wright’s life, which I didn’t read much of. But there are some pieces of his art that are very cool. It’s supposed to cover 1949 – 1962, so it’s before this smaller format Nipper collection which I also have, which covers 1963 – 1964.
Look, his early comics were so old school.
S: Lots of detail!
Continue reading “Doug, right?”
Baking with Kafka by Tom Gauld. Drawn & Quarterly, 2017. 9781770462960.
This second collection of Gauld’s cartoons for The Guardian’s Review section, a sequel of sorts to You’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack, is crammed full of the sort of literature-based gag strips that you would immediately text or email to book-loving friends. Gauld covers genre conventions, stock characters, authors renowned and not yet discovered, and the unique life challenges of heavy readers with some strips on art, history, and even crossword puzzles thrown in for good measure. It’s the perfect book to keep next to your stack of unread New Yorkers.
Sequential Drawings by Richard McGuire. Pantheon Books, 2016. 9781101871591.
Spot illustrations from the pages of The New Yorker by the author of the graphic novel Here. Some are groups of related objects, others sequential. Luc Sante, in his introduction, points out that “McGuire has a special gift for endowing inanimate objects with personalities. He accomplishes this with the most minimal means.” In “Three Friends” a parking meter on a bent post looks like Munch’s The Scream. “Rock, Paper, Scissors” stresses violence as well as cooperation. (The entire sequence can be seen at the top of this GQ review.) “Flamingo Umbrella” starts with irritation but ends with pure delight. “Pigeon” is my favorite sequence — the birds’ poses perfectly express their ridiculousness.
The beautifully minimalist illustrations seem designed to remind me both that anything can be represented via a few simple lines and that creating such pleasing drawings requires a level of skill few possess.
And, you know, if you know a comics geek like me, there could be no better Valentine’s Day gift than this.
It’s All Absolutely Fine: Life Is Complicated So I’ve Drawn It Instead by Ruby Elliot. Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2017. 9781449480424.
I saw Ruby Elliot’s comics passed around online, posted and reposted by people who felt the same way she does about coping with life and body image issues. They were funny and rang really true. This book is the first time I’ve read her heavier comics. 24-year-old Ruby Elliot has dealt with a lot in her life: an eating disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, and self-harm. She has been in some really dark places and survived. This isn’t inspiration porn, this is about feeling both emotionally raw and annoyed by having to struggle to just get through daily life. It’s frustrating. It’s demoralizing. Yet it’s also funny and hopeful.
Elliot’s voice is really strong and I’m looking forward to seeing her work as she matures. I think she’s going to be a world-changer (if she isn’t already).
My other favorite graphic novels on mental health issues: Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh, Marbles by Ellen Forney, Cat Rackham by Steve Wolfhard, and Psychiatric Tales by Darryl Cunningham.
Our Cats Are More Famous Than Us: A Johnny Wander Collection by Ananth Hirsh & Yuko Ota. Oni Press, 2017. 9781620103838. 416pp.
Collects Johnny Wander books 1-3, plus some bonus strips.
Like a lot of great art, the best diary comic strips look effortless. They’re just little slices of daily life, right? But there’s a huge amount of art and skill that goes into setting the tone and telling of each. Johnny Wander tells stories of daily life in a light but not-too-sweet way: the rental house held together by spackle, the curry that came to Yuko in a dream (recipe included), and the ongoing conflict between Yuko’s love for real coffee and Ananth’s love for tooth-rattlingly sweet coffee drinks. I got to really like all of the characters: Ananth and Yuko, their roommates, their friends, Yuko’s parents, and (of course!) Ananth and Yuko’s cats. Comics fans might recognize appearances by Raina Telgemeier, Dave Roman, KC Green, and Rich Stevens.
This is a collection I’ll want to keep on hand. Reading Johnny Wander always makes me happy. Keep it with your emergency kit.
Step Aside, Pops: A Hark! A Vagrant Collection by Kate Beaton
Drawn and Quarterly, 2015
Kate Beaton, of course, is super awesome and funny. Her gag-strip humor range? Black Canary making friends with a heavy metal singer. Alexander Pushkin enters a cat show. The emotional fallout for a nasty boy called out in Janet Jackson’s Nasty Boys music video. Wuthering Heights jokes. Ida B. Wells. Hard as nails lady Victorian bicyclists. Extra bonus for book nerds: her strips riffing on Nancy Drew and Edward Gorey book covers.